Effective content marketing derives its power a very simple principle: Provide value to your audience without expecting anything in return. This may seem counterintuitive, and it’s where I see a lot of content marketing efforts falter.
After all, content marketing is marketing, at base. Marketing is selling. Selling is, by definition, a transaction. So how can I expect to do any selling without expecting a transaction?
Give it time. Just like in traditional selling, you can’t just march in unannounced and ask for the sale. Consumers are smart, and they are desensitized to sales pitches. They will see right through you if you try to sell before you have a relationship.
Do the work and prove yourself first—provide genuine value with a genuine intent. Inspire, inform, or entertain—that part’s up to you. But also, be reliable and give of yourself generously. It’s good for you, and good for your business too.
Align your content strategy around one purpose—to provide some value to your intended audience, so that you can build trust, authority, and ultimately, the permission to ask for something in return. In this week’s episode, I talk about how to trade a transactional mindset for a generous mindset, especially if you are just getting started with content marketing.
In the show, I mentioned an article by Seth Godin about the six emotions available to you in your writing. Here it is: Millions of words and only six emotions.
Eliza Grinnell says
Great episode! As a consumer, couldn’t agree more. That’s the strategy that wins my brand loyalty. I know you’re primarily writing for small businesses but I’d love to hear some content targeted at the higher-ed marketers/communicators. How do you apply your content marketing strategies when your primary content is press releases and the metrics of success are tied to admissions & fundraising?
Michael Boezi says
Thank you, Eliza! These activities are the same to me, or at least parallel to running a small business (admissions = gaining paid subscribers, fundraising = pitch decks, crowdfunding). Especially in larger, more structured environments like higher ed, content marketing is not a replacement for outbound activities like press releases—it should work hand in hand as a part of your overall content strategy. That way it doesn’t feel too heavy – like too much extra work.
I think that a good place to start for you is to think about how you can find ways to speak NOT from a company/institution, but to “deputize” someone as the voice of the brand. Or more than one person. In my client work, there are stark growth results between personal voice (CEO, CMO, etc) and company voice. Usually 2:1 at minimum. I cover this a little more in this video: http://bit.ly/testing-assumptions-pt3.
Would love to hear more about how you tackle this problem—and you’ve given me more to consider for future episodes too. Much appreciated!